Things I Learned When Travelling Alone With My Daughter Ayra

Fifty Shades of Tiredness

Travelling with a pre-schooler takes a lot more energy and patience than I imagined.

The worst meltdown was on day 4 which lasted a good long 45 mins, I was lucky it happened in the hotel room. It was initiated from our train trip back from Bondi Junction and turned massive the moment she plonks herself down in the room. I did my best to control myself and keep breathing… “I want Mummy to hug me…“, that’s all we needed to get through the painful struggles.

Day Tour Is Exhausting

When a day tour is planned, prepare activities, for us, it would have been the iPad and food. Hungry and exhausted little one can really drive you crazy when stuck in an hour plus long bus journey. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare either of them for our planned day tour, I had to pep talk every time we start our ride in the bus. I think I came up with 1001 reasons how we were going to have a great day if she would just rest and nap whenever possible.

Just Go With The Flow

Don’t bother to plan an itinerary, what you do depends greatly on the mood of your pre-schooler. Just go with the flow and go slow, it’s ok you don’t get to visit every place you planned to. Avoid purchasing too many tickets before the trip and keep to just the main highlights, perhaps one attraction every two days.

Be Overprepared

Never underestimate the weather… 11 degree is too cold for our summer-trained body. 3 layers and we were still shivering. Should have bought that Ultra Light Down from Uniqlo! And we almost hit our personal freezing point on the fourth night while walking back to our hotel from Darling Habour.

Promises Not!

When the little one made a promise, don’t take it seriously. “Ok fine! We go to the playground then we go dinner.” – Never happened. We ended up spending too much time at the playground and grabbing a quick bite from McDonald’s instead of a lovely dine in dinner by the harbour.

Stay Away from Social Media

Live in the moments for real and not just capturing and posting about it online. In the past, I used to have the habit to check my mobile and want to post everything I do instantly on Instagram. This trip, I make a conscious effort to keep my mobile away and focus on our time together.

One hand holding onto my girl and the other my compact camera, we lived in every moment together and I capture shots and videos without putting in much thought or planning. Just turn on and shoot. Looking through the photos and videos captured, I double confirmed that perhaps all or most of the “Instagram-worthy” aka well framed and posed shots of kids travelling are lots of hard work and pep talk. Wouldn’t this be too much a hassle just to capture that one great shot? Unless of cos, your little ones are mini supermodels, well trained to respond to “Look here, smile (and pose)!” That’s exactly what I did too but it never worked on Ayra. Just look at the shots I got!

“Ayra look here! Smile! Look here!!!”

Not happening! My girl is just as stubborn as the mother!

Like Parents Like Child

Ayra is very much like me when travelling – She keeps everyone in mind and ensures she buys something for each of them. At the shops, she’ll browse around and go… “This can give to my friends… this I think meimei (Zara) will like… hmmm I think I want to buy this for…“. This is her distributing her loots after our trip at Luna Park.

With one and a half day more to go, it’s time to get something for me perhaps?

Ayra is very much like her father – the moment she stepped into the hotel room, she must have the TV turned on. And it is very difficult to get her to turn it off and head out!

Video Calls FTW

Always have a connection even if you plan to stay disconnected during travel. Because sharing moments and experiences with the sister back home is lots of fun via video calls.

Every day we will stay connected with family back in Singapore via Whatsapp video call. Thanks to unlimited 4G Wifi powered by ChangiWifi (www.changirecommends.com), we called anytime anywhere without worrying we will exceed our data roaming or the need to top-up credits etc. We shared our time on Blue Mountain, view of the Sydney Opera House, travelling in the double-decker train and a lot more happy times with our loved ones during this trip.

With unlimited 4G Wifi also makes waiting in a queue a lot more bearable for the little one, who kept herself entertained with videos on YouTube. That’s us waiting in line for our Scenic Railway ride.

Break a Routine

Travelling could also be one of the best way to break a routine, like wanting milk in a bottle every morning and night. Or the need to hold a hanky to sleep. We survived so far, 5 Days 4 Nights, with Ayra and she has never asked for either of them. Not sure if she will start the routine again when we’re back, but I really hope she has grown out of it.

We are on our final full day here in Sydney and will be flying back tomorrow afternoon. We both miss our family very much and Zara has been upset too without her sister around. Can’t wait to land back home and give a big warm hug to Zara!

Learning to Write with Kids’ Favourite Songs

Ayra is in K2 this year, and she is still not very keen on reading nor writing. I am not sure if she’s only being lazy when around me or she is really just not interested. Based on feedback from her teachers, she is doing alright in class and even during her enrichment sessions at Eye Level.

learningwithmusiclyrics

To help get her want to practice writing, I thought we can try copying lyrics from her favourite song list. We tried it for the first time recently and I think I’m going to make this a weekly routine.

This was her copied version of part of the song from My Little Pony, titled Welcome To The Show.

Still a lot of practice needed. Should I be worried? My husband and I believe she will eventually learn and want to read and write. Her time is just not here yet.

Ayra The Funtastic Four

Everyday I look at you, with 100% focus, I see a different you. You have grown so so much and I am asking myself where has my little Ayra gone. Your words, your actions, the way you scream and cry, the way you interact with your toys bringing them to life and how you can transform from a 3+ year old to like a 7 year old instantly; you are always amusing me.

I have been treating you rather unfairly lately, wanting you to behave like a big girl and stop crying and screaming for little things every day, just because you are turning four. How silly of me to do that! You are ONLY four!! And I must admit you have been doing very very well already.

You have learned to give-in to your younger sister at play, you will off the TV, pack your toys and switch off the lights and fan when its time for bed, you let me explain to you why things should be done the right way and the one-thousand-and-one reasons why you need to listen to your parents. You know when to give in and accept that you are wrong.

Ayra, my darling 4 year old, you really have been growing up well and Mummy is very proud of you.

We do of course still have our many days of unnecessary melt-down, screaming and angry moments, creating too much blue and red memory balls in our long-term memory. All these will one day be gone and forgotten and those which ended up into our core memory will serve as a reminder of how and why we do things the way we are. It is ok to cry when we are sad, but screaming just because you cannot get what you want or due to the lack of rest is really not acceptable, Mummy will help you get over this phase so you know how to better control your emotions.

I love it when you wake up with a big smile and jumping out of bed on your own. I love it when you “lecture” me for not doing things I promised to do and you really sounded like an adult, just like how I would say the same to you too! (insert sweet voice of Ayra) “Mummy you know right, you are always working working working, you must remember to cut my nails ok. You must remember you promise to play with me and bring Meimei go out you know. Mummy you know?“.

Thank you for being such a lovable, smart, outspoken (when with me) and understanding 4 year old. Together we will do more happy things, we will guide and teach one another the many joyful things in life, we will share and create many many yellow memory balls and we will share our emotions and cry if we have to. Mummy promise you I will do my best to provide you with the best I can and love you 101%, and also will always remember to give you and Zara 100% focus everyday, even if its just for that short 30 minutes.

Happy 4th Birthday my darling girl!

Stay curious, keep smiling and fill our family with your love. Please try to be less shy when surrounded by family members and friends, Mummy know you can be the way you are even in big groups too. You just need to pretend everyone you don’t recognise as invisible and they cannot see you. LOVE LOVE LOVE you very much Ayra. Happy birthday darling!

Fox Kids & Baby Getting Hip with Fall Winter ’15 Collection

It was a morning of non-stop snacking, fashion shopping, tiny clay crafting, playing dress-up and being in their element at FOX Kids & Baby Fall Winter ’15 preview. If you still do not know by now how much our girls love FOX, go read about our fashionista moments with #FOXFashionSG since 2013! Gosh it has been almost 2 years already? So can I declare myself as a FOX Fashion style guru since I know almost all their collection over these years? I am very happy to see them evolving and bringing in better and more stylish designs over the years. And THIS season is probably my personal favourite!

Ayra and Zara in FOX Kids and Baby Fall Winter 2015 Collection
The girls styled in their upcoming releases for Fall Winter ’15, and these two outfits are my favourite picks from the preview. But silly me left them out in our stash! Must-go-back to buy them soon.

Moving slightly away from their usual cutesy cartoon character designs, FOX Kids & Baby brings in more stylish prints and monochromatic colours too. And finally the girls can dress to match me and Ayah instead of the other way round, because both me and him has got limited colours in our wardrobe and mainly in shades of black, greys and red, so this collection fits in well in our family!

Ayra and Zara at FOX Kids & Baby Fall Winter 2015 preview
The girls picked their own clothes to try during the preview, and this they do it too often these days whenever we are out shopping. Good thing I am still able to control them still and restrict any unnecessary spending.

Besides all the shopping and snacking on retro snacks from the 80s, we also got our hands busy making our very own cute accessories! Am impressed that Ayra managed to complete quite a bit with help from friend from Wing Tai.


And these are our combined effort from that day. Not bad right?
Ayra at FOX Kids & Baby Fall Winter 2015 Preview
Doesn’t she look like a big little fashionista shopper? Yes she tried on all those pieces. It was kinda crazy in the fitting room that day.
Ayra and Zara at FOX Kids & Baby Fall Winter 2015 Preview
One of the many failed attempts to get the girls pose for the camera. But this is quite cute lah, one busy eating and the other being her wacky self.
Matching outfits for our usual weekend day out to Universal Studios Singapore.

With whole lot more new designs to choose from this season, I think you’ll probably see me popping into FOX Kids & Baby every week to check out their new arrivals. And now they also have got a special treat for wt+ members, spend $60 nett in stores and get a free backpack for your little one.

Follow them on Facebook for their latest updates and promotions.

Disclaimer: The Loving Mum was invited to the preview and and provided shopping credits to dress up our little girls. All opinions are our own.

Lunch Date with Daughter with Pizza and Fries

I am such a lousy mum! After a great lunch date with Ayra in Oct 2014, I haven’t been able to do another one for almost a year. I promised myself that I need to do it more often, but work and appointments took over almost every available lunch hours over the past year and more in the coming months. But still, its better to have a once-a-blue-moon opportunity than to never have any. So when we had a chance to go out on a mother-elder-daughter only date few weeks ago, we pampered ourselves a little with a nice slow lunch. No rushing, no feeding just good yummilicious lunch with my girl.

See that face when she truffle fries was served? Never mind its not that healthy, that smile and giggle makes all worries go away. Just eat and enjoy!

Lunch that day was at Skinny Pizza, because she requested for fries and then later pizza. I could only think of one place where I can enjoy pizza with her without having to feel that guilty since I was supposed to be avoiding eating processed carb then.

We ordered a Wild Truffled Mushroom, truffle fries and ice cold drink for me. Can you tell I had a bad craving for truffles that day? LOL!

Ayra enjoyed the crispy thin pizza crust and fries, while I had lots of wild truffled mushroom and rocket leaves.

Of course we couldn’t finish the entire pizza so we requested them to pack the left over for us. But the silly mummy left the box of pizza in the ladies and totally forgot about it! Only realized our pizza was missing in the evening when we were on our way home. Too excited about the day’s activities and little things like this are easily forgotten.

Hope we can do more of such girly date out and not just that once a year! I love seeing her so happy.

That Day When Ayra Met Our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Photo from PM Lee's Facebook Page (MCI Photo by Terence Tan)
Photo from PM Lee’s Facebook Page (MCI Photo by Terence Tan)

Because it was kind of a big deal so I just got to record this memory on the blog. The news of this once in a lifetime opportunity came on my birthday just when we were about to leave home for dinner. The lady from Capitaland called and asked if Ayra would be able to join them at the launch and present a token of appreciation to PM Lee at the Straits Time exhibition, Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow, where Capitaland is the main sponsor for. The first thing that came to mind was “Oh no! Ayra? Our super shy Ayra presenting to PM Lee? Surely cannot loh! It’ll be a photo disaster!“. But of course I did not say that and politely accepted the invite. The moment the phone call ended, I started prepping Ayra immediately! Yes I am THAT kiasu although we were two weeks to the launch.

Days preceding to the day when Ayra meets our Prime Minister at the launch, I explained to her what she was going to be doing, who PM Lee is, how he is related to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew (because Ayra knows about him during the period of national mourning), what she can expect at the launch and how she should behave and smile all the time. Ayra was even told to imagine that she will be invisible that evening and only Mummy can see her, so she does not need to worry about strangers looking at her. It was quite a stressful experience for me because this is confirmed going to be published in the papers loh!

See she was all smiley and happy before dinner. Ayra you would have been such a doll if you gave that big smile when you met PM Lee that night.

Everything went well and Ayra was all set and ready for the big event that evening. We arrived at Marina Bay Sands slightly earlier to slowly set her mood and have our dinner. All was smooth and great until when we were ready to walk over to Art Science Museum (ASM) where the launch and exhibition was taking place!!!

I was almost lost for words and ran out of ideas to coax this little shy princess of mine. She refused to walk towards ASM and insisted her feet were too tired to move. There is no way we are backing out of this so I used all mighty power of imagination to help ease her anxiety and we managed to go through the whole event without any need to tame any crying girl. All these wouldn’t be possible without the great help, hospitality and patience from the ladies from Capitaland.

The all adults crowd probably intimidated the tiniest little girl there.
Keeping Ayra occupied and warmed up while waiting for PM Lee to reach our exhibit hall, which is the last in the entire exhibit.

As I had expected, Ayra was too nervous and stunned like vegetable when the huge entourage of media and photographer engulfed PM Lee, CEO of Capitaland and her during the presentation. Her feet were stuck to the ground, lips tightly sealed into a straight line and refusing to smile for the cameras. I am very very grateful and thankful for the initiative taken by PM Lee during the presentation, he taking the extra effort to ensure photos were taken for the news piece and even giving us a second chance to have some more photos taken.

Ayra in the feature in The Straits Time
PM Lee making small chats with Ayra, trying to get her to warm up. Photo taken by not-sure-who-cos-camera-passed around.

And the one most unforgettable thing he did was to reply to my posting on his Facebook page, acknowledging Ayra’s presence that night.

Besides the Past and Present, the Future and what it can be was a big part of the exhibition. Capitaland organised the…

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

If you are wondering why Ayra was invited to do this, well because she is the youngest participant of #BuildSG2065, a campaign by Capitaland.

Ayra’s art piece duplicated and now on display inside Art Science Museum together with many other creative submissions for #BuildSG2065.

Thank you again Capitaland for this memorable experience for me. As for Ayra, I think she would probably laugh at how silly she had been that evening when she sees this post and view the photos taken that night with PM Lee.

Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow, at ArtScience Museum from now till 4 Oct 2015. Go check it out!

Lessons at heART Studio Singapore – What to expect

We’ve completed our first term of Little Botero programme with heART Studio. Having stayed on to observe the classes through the 10 weeks, spoken to other parents and understood more about the school from the teachers and the friendly Auntie May; here is our 101% honest review and sharing of what you can expect when you send your little ones for programme at heART Studio. You may also like to read about our previous two posts here and here.

Programme Structure and Class Size

The Loving Mum Reviews heART Studio

Little Botero programme is conducted by Teacher Jay, the class size is kept small so that the children gets more attention and guidance from Teacher Jay. The weekly class Ayra attended only had 2 girls, and I really appreciate the attentiveness given to Ayra during lessons. Each term consists of 10 lessons which each child will get to complete 2 painting (4 lessons each) and 1 drawing (2 lessons) projects. The lessons are broken down to 4-4-2 so that new students joining the class need not wait till a complete term before they start. Each lesson is 75 minutes.

Each new project will kick off with an introduction of the topic that they will be drawing. For example, Ayra did a project on aeroplane and she learned about the different types of planes, watched videos about them, explained the different parts of a plane and then eventually learned to sketch their own planes in the first lesson. The next three lessons were then spent drawing and painting on their project which can be in form of canvas board or drawing block.

The Environment

The Loving Mum Reviews heART Studio

I like how the classroom is refreshed for every lesson. Printed photos, sample sketches and paintings are put up around the class to fit the project theme. The classroom is bright and room temperature just nice for the class size. On raining days, its advisable to bring along a jacket for the little one.

Location of heART Studio is a little tricky to get to for those who doesn’t drive. The nearest bus stop is about 5 to 10 minutes walk. Once we took the bus and Ayra got lazy walking, carrying her up the slope towards the building where heART Studio is located left me perspiring and sweaty. We never did that again, and make sure we have our car booked every Thursday evening for her lesson.

The Teacher and Team

The Loving Mum Reviews heART Studio

Teacher Jay is very patient with his small class, he explained and interacted with his students at every opportunity. Say when he’s mixing colours for them, he would ask what colour they can get by mixing two colours together. Or when he is drying their painting, he would have small talks to keep the children talking. After lesson, he would also share some feedback and observations of your child during class. Like how he said Ayra is getting better with controlling her strokes, how she had been too active that day in class and affecting the other girl, etc.

I didn’t get to interact much with the other teachers at heART Studio, but when I do see them, they give me a very happy and fun vibe. The lady managing the registrations and schedule, Auntie May we call her, is very nice and helpful too. She greets the children by name when we enter the studio and reminds us if there is no lesson the following week. Overall I like the team at heART Studio.

The Projects

In the term, Ayra completed 2 paintings and 1 drawing. See how proud she is with all her creation.

The Loving Mum Reviews heART Studio

The Loving Mum Reviews heART Studio

The Loving Mum Reviews heART Studio

So are we going to continue?

I had been discussing this with Ayra since the middle of our term and have gotten a mixture of “Yes” and “Don’t want”. I can tell she really did enjoy her lessons and she is super proud of the two paintings she did. This being her first extra classes outside of her class in child care, she is still not used to the extended hours every Thursday. Before and after her final lesson with Teacher Jay, her final answer was no. She did not want to continue, her reason? “Because I don’t like to draw like that… I only want to paint.

Respecting her decision, we are taking a break from extra weekly lessons for now. But I have signed up and paid for three holiday programmes for Ayra this coming June. On those three days, I’ve also planned not to send her to child care just so she can get enough rest and remain focus in the 3 hours painting class. That’s more than double of her usual painting classes, so I really hope the project will keep her motivated and stay focus! We will be going for Gingerbread Man, Shawn The Sheep and Monster In My Pocket holiday workshop in the first two weeks of June. Below’s the holiday programme available at heART Studio this June. For more details and schedule, check out their Facebook Page.

heartstudio-juneprog

heART Studio
1 Charlton Lane #01-04 , Singapore 539631
Tel: 65547563
Email: info@heartstudiosg.com
Website: www.heartstudiosg.com

*Disclosure: This is part of a series of reviews between heART Studio and The Loving Mum. Ayra is attending complimentary art lessons for the purpose of writing this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.